My father and I are eating lunch at a TGI Fridays. It just happens to be Friday afternoon. We’re sitting next to a plate glass window fronting a busy highway. Outside the roads are already thickening with commuters. My father’s eating chicken while I nibble on the fish special. Our conversation ranges from family matters to the movies. By the time our coffee arrives we’re talking about the first movie version of the Maltese Falcon. Not the classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet. Were talking about the 1931 version with Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels. I had never known it existed until I saw it on late night TV. Its a great film. Cortez plays Sam Spade a lot differently than Bogie.
“He’s a sleaze ball,” I say to my father, “Just like Spade was in the book.”
“Bogart couldn’t play it that way.”
“The 1931 version was before the Hayes Act,” I reply, “Before censorship clamped down on everything.”
“Did you enjoy it?” my father asks. When I had mentioned the movie my father tracked it down on the internet and gave me a copy for Christmas.
“It was great,” I say, “I’ll give it to you when we get back to the house.”
“I’d like to see it.”
“There’s still a fat guy playing Casper Gutman,” I grin. “But this time you know hes a pervert.”
“That wasn’t in the Bogie version,” my father grumbles.
“This version’s a little darker Dad.”
Our waitress, a cute girl with her hair tied in a ponytail, arrives with our check. She can’t be more than nineteen.
“How was everything gentleman?” she asks.
“Very nice,” my dad says.
“Everything was great,”I echo. “Thank you.”
“Here’s your check gentleman,” the waitress says. “My father and I begin reaching for our wallets.”
“We have a customer satisfaction survey,” the girl says, pointing to the receipt. “If you go online and fill it out you get a free appetizer on your next visit.”
“So you fill out the survey online?” my dad asks.
“Yes sir,” the waitress replies.
I look at the girl and give her my best smile. She smiles back.
“Is there a special code that identifies you to the corporate guys?” I ask.
“Yes,” the waitress says, pointing to the receipt, “My secret code is Amanda 7.”
“Not very secret,” I say.
“I know,” the girl laughs.
“It reminds me of something from…. ” I start to say, but I catch myself. The girl’s too young to catch the reference.
The waitress looks at me expectantly.
“Sorry,” I say, “I’m just thinking out loud. It’s nothing. Thanks.”
“Thank you sir,” the girl says smoothly. “I’ll give you gentleman some time with your check.”
Once the waitress walks away my father looks at me. “What were you going to say?”
I was going to say Amanda 7 sounds like something out of Logan’s Run.
“She’d never have gotten that reference,” my Dad says.
“Great movie,” I say. “They’re thinking of remaking it.”
“I hope they follow the book more closely,” I say. “In the movie no one was allowed to live past thirty. In the book twenty-one was the limit.”
“Twenty one?” my father laughs. “Yikes. Id be long gone.”
“I’d have been vaporized seventeen years ago,” I say. “Don’t feel bad.”
My father and I throw some money into the check holder. The waitress comes back to collect it.
“All set gentleman?” she asks perkily.
“All yours “my Dad says, pushing the plastic folder towards her. The girl got a nice tip.
“Excuse me,” I ask the waitress. “Have you ever heard of the movie Logan’s Run?
“Sure,” the waitress says, “That’s the one where everyone’s living underground or something.”
“And everyone’s name was Logan 5 or Jessica 6,” I say. “Your name on the bill reminded me of that movie. I was going to say that but I wasn’t sure you’d catch the reference.
“I love movies,” the waitress says.
“Thanks a lot Amanda 7” I say. “You satisfied my curiosity.”
“You’re welcome sir,” the girl says, happily, “Come back soon.”
The waitress takes her money and leaves.
“I wanted to ask her that,” I tell my father when the waitress moves out of earshot, “Because sometimes I think people younger than me don’t know the same things I know.”
“They can surprise you,” my dad says. He should know. He was a teacher for forty years.
“Yeah,” I say smiling. “But do you think she knows who Ricardo Cortez was?”
My Dad drives me home and we part company. He’s driving back to Pennsylvania. I let myself in the house, fire up my computer and fill out the TGI Fridays survey.
Amanda 7 got a rave review.
In case anyone was as curious as me, I found the “Hayes Act” is officially called The Hays Code, on Wikipedia at least.
The internet lets me feel smart.
Man. I saw that movie years ago and was never able to recall it’s name. Thanks, for helping me find it again.
Great post. Left me feeling good in some odd way. You guys had a great rapport with that young waitress. The movie stuff was interesting also, although I’m not so familiar with those movies, having only heard of them.
G33kGrrly is correct. There was no Hayes Act. There was a man named Will Hays (no E), who ran the Production Code office. Sometimes it’s referred to as the Hays Office. The Code was enacted in, I think, 1929, but not actually enforced until 1934, after the Catholic League threatened to boycott films and scared the shit out of the studio heads. So, films made in the first years of the ’30s are referred to as pre-Code, but they’re really just pre-Enforcement.
Incidentally, the handsome and talented Ricardo Cortez was actually an Austrian-Jewish emigre named Jacob Krantz; the “Cortez” moniker was an attempt to cash in on the Valentino Latin Lover market. I love early Hollywood.